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Doug Clark: Thompson’s day of justice might never come

Sun., July 1, 2012

I wonder what ol’ Karl Thompson Jr. is up to today.

Barbecue? Fishing? Golf?


Maybe just hangin’ around watching the tube with pals.

Summer sky’s the limit, I guess.

Me? I’ll be logging some of my Sunday time trying to clear my head.

See, my brain is boggled by the following insane situation:

Thompson is free on just a signature bond while awaiting sentencing. Meanwhile, 243 days have crawled by since a Yakima federal jury of a dozen dedicated citizens declared him an abusive, lying cop.

It was a glorious moment last Nov. 2.

The Spokane police officer was found guilty for the thuggish, unprovoked club-and-Taser beat-down he unleashed on an innocent guy named Otto Zehm.

Plus guilty for the lies he told investigators in an attempt to cover up what he had done inside that North Division convenience store on March 18, 2006.

Zehm, a 36-year-old janitor who suffered from mental illness, was wrongly reported as a thief prior to Thompson’s cowboy arrival. He was pronounced dead two days after the assault.

Do you think any one of those Yakima jurors – after delivering such tough judgment – had even an inkling of the absurd delay of justice that lay ahead?

I seriously doubt it.

Maybe that’s one of the questions they were asked last month by members of Thompson’s Scheme Team.

In the latest outrage, U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle allowed defense lawyers to conduct a secret witch hunt by grilling jurors who dared convict their club-happy client.

Van Sickle, S-R reporter Tom Clouse reported, gave “no public notice or reasoning behind holding the hearings.”

Ain’t that cozy?

Yet another question comes to mind.

Does anybody think we’d be witnessing the same level of defense gymnastics to prove juror misconduct and get a new trial if, say, Thompson was footing his legal bills?

Not hardly.

Back in April, according to a court document, Thompson’s team had nicked the public for nearly a half-million in approved “representation fees and costs.”

It’s anyone’s guess what that figure will balloon to once this is all over.

Presuming these stall tactics ever do get over, that is.

People like to moan about the high cost of the law, but it’s been a cherry deal for Thompson ever since July 2009.

That’s when a federal magistrate declared Thompson indigent despite his $73,000-a-year salary and an interest in a $675,000 home in Hayden.

If that’s indigent, I’m the next Celebrity Apprentice.

What fuzzy-thinker came up with such nonsense, you ask?

We can’t blame Freddy for this one.

The culprit was the same judge who once granted a Thanksgiving furlough from jail to a dope dealing, compulsive court-skipper.

That same judge also once let an accused pot peddler head off to Disneyland with family before returning to take a plea deal.

Not to mention that we’re talking about the same softy judge who recently let career criminal Charles R. Wallace forgo jail to attend a drug treatment program. (Wallace, of course, would go out in a blaze of ignominy, killing himself after wounding two deputies.)

All right. Enough hints.

I’m talking about the one and only … U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

And the wheels of the bus go round and round.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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